Plastic cards have become part of almost every person’s life, from driver’s licenses to credit cards, employee identification badges to access control cards, gift and affinity cards for retail purchases to club memberships. Their standard credit-card size, convenience, durability, cost effectiveness and customizability have made their use commonplace and the preferred choice for a large number of these applications.
Printed PVC Cards
Printing directly onto plastic (PVC) cards with digital card printers offers the ability to create personalized or custom-designed cards on demand which can be tailored to specific applications at the point of issuance. The resulting high quality and professional-looking cards are durable, smooth-surfaced, and can be printed with full image from edge-to-edge.
These cards can also include security features such as security holographic overlaminates, or machine-readable information such as bar codes, magnetic stripes, smart chips and prox card technology.
Card Printing Specifications
PVC cards come in a variety of sizes but the most common PVC card is the CR-80, which measures 0.030″ (0.76 millimetres) in thickness, and has dimensions of 2 1/8″ x 3 3/8″ (approx: 54 mm x 86 mm), the same as your typical credit card. Other available options include adhesive-backed cards for affixing to proximity access cards, magnetic stripes or embedded electronics for encoding, and signature panels for user verification.
An economical and professional-looking option for printing high quantities of cards is to order pre-printed PVC cards and then print only the variable information on-site using a desktop card printer. This is popular with organizations who have strict requirements for brand-compliance (specific Pantone colours only), or where the variable information being printed is only required in one colour.
For example, if a member’s name, ID number and expiry date need to be printed in only black text on a card containing a two-colour logo, the organization can achieve cost savings by ordering professionally developed, two-colour pre-printed cards and then print their member information using a more economical single-colour (usually black resin) ribbon. However, if the variable information being printed includes text and a colour ID photograph, most users should still choose to print the complete card using full-colour ribbon on inexpensive white PVC cards.
Data Management and Card Issuance
PVC card printers and computer database systems can be directly integrated with image capture systems (digital cameras, etc.) at point of delivery. The printing process is fast so that cards can be generated and personalized while the customer, employee, member or cardholder waits, quickly connecting them to your organization or program.
Submit Your Artwork for Custom ID Cards
At Visible ID, we can custom design and print your company or organization’s ID cards for you. If you have a small number of cards to produce, or you do not wish to purchase your own ID card printing system at this time, or perhaps you just prefer to outsource the work to allow your staff to concentrate on growing your business, let us do the work for you! We consult with you to ensure your cards will have the elements you need to provide the proper identification within your facility or out in the field. Our quick turnaround time will ensure that your new staff member or volunteer has their badge ready to go right away. Call or email us today to get a quote!
3.375” x 2.125” at 300dpi. Bleeds not required. High resolution PDF preferred, but jpg, tiff also accepted.
Intro to Smart Cards
There are a wide variety of contact and contactless smart cards currently in use. The terms “Smart Chip Card, IC Card, and Smart Card” all refer to the same type of card. Smart cards have a chip embedded in them which can be programmed. Smart cards can store over 100 times more information than a magnetic stripe and they can be reprogrammed to add, delete or rearrange data.
There are a variety of printers on the market that can print on these kinds of smart cards. Encoding or programming the electronic devices on these cards is typically accomplished by an external encoding or programming device, but contactless smart card encoders integrated into the card printer are becoming increasingly available.
Identity cards are not made of a single piece of plastic, but rather they are comprised of numerous thin layers of plastic. These layers are often made of PVC, but more durable and secure cards can be made combining different materials to create a composite card.
For example, PVC is low cost, widely used and compatible with the majority of printing technologies and laminates. On the downside, it’s not very durable and has only a three-year average lifespan.
Composite cards – made from PVC and a polyester material such as PET – are more expensive but last longer than cards made only from PVC. But these cards can delaminate and are not compatible with embossing, which means they can’t be used for payment cards that require that feature.
Adding synthetic materials – such as Teslin – to a composite card can increase efficiencies and significantly boost card durability through flexibility, resistance to delamination and protection for embedded electronics.
Polycarbonate cards are another common choice for secure IDs. These cards are durable and enable fraud resistant laser engraved personalization. They do not require laminates so delamination is not an issue. The cards are typically more expensive, and via typical laser engraving they can only be personalized in black and white.